The Harp Festival at Nobber

The O Carolan Harp, Cultural and Heritage Festival 1988-1992

The O Carolan harp festival at Nobber was inaugurated in 1988 to mark the 250th anniversary of the harpist's death. It was officially opened by Labhras O Murchu and celebrated O Carolan with a weekend of lectures, music, song and dance.

The following year, 1989, harpists Grainne Yeats, Helen Davies and Aileen McCrann attended again to conduct the harp school while experts in the fiddle, button accordion, whistle and flute held instrumental workshops.

By its third year, 1990, the harp festival was assured of the continuing support of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and Cairde na Cruite, both of whom praised the important and inspirational commemoration of O Carolan's time and music in his native place.

Nobber native and well-known archaeologist Professor George Eogan opened the festival. Festival organisers were honoured and delighted to have the Chieftains perform in concert as the festival highlight that year.

In 1991 the chairman, Tony Finnegan, welcomed visitors and competitors from all over Ireland and from overseas to the festival. Nicholas Carolan, the administrator of the Irish Traditional Archives lectured on "Turlough O Carolan an Archival View". Instrumental workshops, competitions and concerts featured over the five days of the festival.

In music circles 1992 was the year of the harp. The 200th anniversary of the 1792 Belfast Harpers Festival was commemorated. That festival had brought together most of the last remaining exponents of the ancient harping tradition of Ireland. The occasion was uniquely important because the music the harpers played was taken down by Edward Bunting and preserved for posterity. If this had not happened, much Irish ancient harp music, including tunes and poems by O Carolan, would have been lost forever.

Bunting was celebrated in concert at the festival with a group of young harpers performing music from the Bunting collection.

The 1992 festival also commemorated the Kilmainhamwood poet, scribe, collector and hedge schoolmaster, Peter Gallegan (1792-1860).

Professor Seamus MacGabhann lectured on his life and work.

On the Sunday morning a new headstone was unveiled at his burial plot in the old Kilmainhamwood graveyard.

Gallery

Commemoration of Turlough O'Carolan, 1988

The harp festival at Nobber started in 1988 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of Turlough O Carolan. O Carolan was born in 1670 in the townland of Spiddal near Nobber. He contracted smallpox resulting in blindness in his teens and following training to play the harp he embarked on an itinerant career composing and playing for his patrons. O Carolan died in 1738.

Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

Commemoration of Turlough O'Carolan, 1988 - Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

O'Carolan Harp Weekend, Nobber, 1989

Following on the success of the first harp festival the second festival took place in early October 1989. A harp school, instrumental workshops and competitions featured for the weekend. Visiting musicians entertained festival goers in the evenings.

Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

O'Carolan Harp Weekend, Nobber, 1989 - Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

O Carolan Harp Weekend, 1990

The 1990 Festival featured The Chieftains in concert. The harp school, workshops, competitions and sessions also took place over the weekend.

Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

O Carolan Harp Weekend, 1990 - Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

Programme of Events 1991 Festival

The programme of events for the 1991 festival lists all the competitions, workshops, lectures and entertainments that took place from the 2nd to the 6th of October 1991.

Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

Programme of Events 1991 Festival - Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

Programme of Events 1992 Festival

The programme of events for the 1992 Harp festival lists the competitions, the instrument workshops and the musicians giving them, the lectures and the entertainment events for that year's festival which took place from the 1st to the 4th of October.

Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

Programme of Events 1992 Festival - Courtesy of Nobber Harp Festival Committee

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